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What are Financials?

Financials refer to the data concerning the monetary performance and position of a company, including income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow reports. These figures are vital for assessing a firm's health and guiding investment decisions. Curious about how these numbers can paint a company's fiscal story? Dive deeper to uncover the secrets behind the financial statements.
Adam Hill
Adam Hill

In business and finance, it is common to speak of a company's financials, which are simply a group of objective data that describe the financial health and viability of a business. Financials may include a company's balance sheet, income statement, annual report, and other indicators. The in-depth review of financials is the greater part of the fundamental analysis of stocks and their underlying companies.

The annual report is perhaps the single most helpful tool in quickly assessing the state of a company's financial performance. Publicly traded companies are required to file annual reports, which detail all of the company's activities during the previous 12 months. An annual report will include any information that could be relevant to shareholders and others who hold some type of interest in the company. It can be as brief or as long as is needed, and some companies go the extra mile to include humorous anecdotes or other items to lighten up what can otherwise be rather dull reading.

An annual report is often the most useful tool in assessing the financial health of a company.
An annual report is often the most useful tool in assessing the financial health of a company.

While an annual report gives a wide view, other financials such as the company balance sheet shine a more piercing light on specific numbers and what they mean. A balance sheet includes three parts: all of the company's liabilities, its assets, and ownership equity. Liabilities may include debt or operating costs, whereas assets include things such as accounts receivable and inventory. The third part, equity, is simply whatever value is left once the liabilities have been subtracted from the assets. This is also known as the company's net worth.

Publicly traded companies are required to file annual reports.
Publicly traded companies are required to file annual reports.

Related to the balance sheet and somewhat simpler, is the company's income statement. It shows what a company has earned, as well as the expenses it has incurred over the course of the year. The income minus the expenses equal the net operating income, which is a very important piece of information to know when evaluating a company's financial health.

Another part of a company's financials which is less well-known is the value of its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). Whether the EBITDA is actually a valuable measure of anything is a subject of debate, since it basically means a company's net earnings before certain fixed expenses are taken into account. It has some value in private equity transactions, because the values it omits would change under new ownership. However, it is often considered to hold little real meaning for the individual investor, or even for many institutional investors.

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Discussion Comments


@amysamp - Tough question! But I must say - I like to stick to looking at the company's cash on hand and the amount of debt they have first and then secondary how much profit they have been making.

It is not that I don't think that the analysts could be quite capable of making fantastic predictions, I just don't know enough to understand how they come up with their predictions.


@sinbad - I appreciate the tip, but I would also like your opinion, from financial investment beginner to financial investment beginner!

Do you find the financial analyst's predictions are usually a pretty good financial analysis of the company's finances?

As I mentioned, I am new to making financial investments as well and am trying to get a grip on any part of a company's "financials"!


I have found that the major search engines such as google and yahoo have a separate financial subheading, just as they have a subheading for scholar searches (this pulls up scholarly articles you might want on a subject), and a subheading for shopping (this pulls up the item you are looking for and where you can buy it).

There are many more subheadings on this search engines (and there are more search engines - those are just the easiest for me to maneuver through because I am used to them) but those are probably the three I use the most.

I go on google financial or yahoo financial to find the "financials" on a company. But I wanted to share a tidbit I learned (and I am always learning, I am a newbie when it comes to this stuff)!

When you look at the financials of a company be sure to delineate the difference between analyst's numbers and the company's actual financial numbers.

Some of the financial information is created from professional analyst's predictions on a stock and although the predictions are based on the company's actual numbers the predictions are still just that - predictions!

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    • An annual report is often the most useful tool in assessing the financial health of a company.
      By: Nataliia
      An annual report is often the most useful tool in assessing the financial health of a company.
    • Publicly traded companies are required to file annual reports.
      By: thinglass
      Publicly traded companies are required to file annual reports.